You know you’ve done it – you’ve left an event and thought you yourself “What the heck was he thinking!” Yes, you just met the man who violated all the rules of networking, and now you know you’ll never look at him with a straight face again, let alone do business with him!
Of course there is no list of rules as you enter the rooms, because these things should be inherent. So, what are those cardinal networking rules you should not break?
We know that it loosens you up. We know that it’s false courage. But it can also get you into a lot of trouble if you happen to loosen up too much! Stick with the seltzer water and a slice of lemon!
If you don’t know how you’re expected to dress, call the event organizer! When you’re dressed incorrectly for an occasion, you just feel uncomfortable.
When you were at previous events, you took notes. They may have been mental notes that you jotted down later, or they may have been memories triggered by something on a person’s business card. However you remembered these facts, now is the time to brush up on them. Greeting someone with “Nice to see you again, Simon! I hear your product launch went well” is a much better opener than “Didn’t I meet you at the Chamber event?”
Similar to the advice about not drinking alcohol, the food may be very tempting, but you won’t create a great impression with a poppyseed stuck in your teeth and garlic breath!
“I’d never do business with that guy from Jones & Co. You wouldn’t believe what he said to my customer!” We’ve all done it. Given our opinion about another person to someone who really doesn’t care to know. The pitfall here is that you just don’t know who is connected to whom, and how they are connected! Don’t burn bridges unnecessarily by talking someone down.
OK, so your day didn’t go as planned. But is it really relevant to your business that you just put your grandma in a nursing home, and you think your wife is having an affair with the neighbor, and you can’t stand the new secretary your boss just hired, and your son’s orthodontist appointment is going to cost you a fortune. Nobody cares. They are all fighting their own personal battles (and they manage to keep theirs undisclosed!)
Just because someone doesn’t dress how you would expect them to, or you think they are too young to own their own business, or you heard something negative about them from another guest at the event, should not deter you from forming your own opinion. Try to put all those first impressions out of your head and start afresh. You may just be surprise.
“Just tell me your name and I’ll look you up on Facebook/LinkedIn/insert social media of choice here.” Do you really think the person you’re talking to will remember that? If you have a very compelling story, or something that makes you unforgettable, then maybe they will. But face it, they’re meeting possibly hundreds of people at this event! How will they remember you? Make sure to take more business cards than you think you’ll need.
Ladies, have you ever tried to carry a purse in one hand, while holding a glass in the other, and dig for your business cards in your purse? Just don’t do it. If you’re going to carry a purse, make sure the straps are long enough that you can carry it on your shoulder, and you can reach your business cards without looking like you’re doing the Elaine Benes dance.
You’re here to network. If you sit in a chair in the corner, people are not going to come to you. Take the initiative to start conversations with people. Be the first to offer a handshake and an introduction. It’s called networking.
Don’t text and network. That’s all.
If you struggle with any of these, let me know. I’m here to help you be the best networker you can be.